Are there any plans to make a Japanese jointer plane
I had planned on doing that at one point, until I was fortunate and lucky enough for this to happen.
Wilbur, do you use saws that are disposable or only the expensive ones that can be resharpened? I love my cheap saw but can't bring myself to spend $250 for a saw I might or might not be able to resharpen. Thanks. Tim
Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it.
I use both. There is an advantage to using the more expensive Japanese saws in that those saws have plates that taper down as you move from the handle to the end of the saw, and as you move away from the tooth line towards the center if the saw is a ryoba. Vintage western saws were often made with a similarly tapered plate as well.
This taper gives more clearance for the saw as it advances in the kerf, and results in the saw being slightly smoother to use. It’s a hard thing to describe if you’ve never had the chance to use a saw with a tapered plate, Japanese or western, but the best I can compare it to is the difference between using a rehabbed and well-tuned Stanley #4 that you found at a flea market and using a Veritas or Lie-Nielsen plane.
$250 for a Japanese saw is a lot of money. But consider this: if you get a ryoba for that price, which is easily achievable, you are getting two saws for the price of one. And at $125 per saw, that’s a bargain considering the amount of handwork that goes into these saws.
Having said that, you can do a lot of really good work with the replaceable blade Japanese saws as well. I can appreciate the difference between using a high quality handmade Japanese saw and the machine-made replaceable blade Japanese saws. But I’d be hard pressed to say that there is a project that I couldn’t make if I only had the machine-made saws.
Hi, just recently user 'mafe' on lumberjocks created the dai for a japanese jointer plane from several pieces (like a Krenov style plane). This seems a lot easier for an amateur to do than from a single piece of oak. Do you see any cons to this?
For reference, here’s the writeup on Lumberjocks by mafe on making a Japanese plane by gluing up the body.
As a caveat, I haven’t tried to make a Japanese plane myself as of yet. The traditional way is to chop out the throat and the mouth of the plane from a solid block of wood. There are a few issues that I see with laminating the body.
First, if there is going to be a point where a Japanese plane fails over time, it’s usually by developing a split in the body by the mouth of the plane, as can be seen in the picture below. This is due to the body shrinking over time and running into the sides of the plane blade. A Japanese plane blade is wedge-shaped across its width, which may exacerbate this splitting issue.
Laminating a Japanese plane body together puts a glue line right where this potential crack can form. And although joint stress tests usually show that a glue line is stronger than the wood around it, if for some reason the glue line is less than ideal, this could lead to a greater chance of failure.
Having said that, I’ve talked with Scott Meek and Rhett Fulkerson, who both make excellent wooden planes using a laminated body construction, and neither one of them have had issues with this sort of failure with their planes. It should be noted that they both use western plane blades, which have parallel sides, and that the gap between their blades and the sides of the throat seems to be wider than what is typically seen in a Japanese plane, which gives more room for potential shrinkage.
Second, like all wooden planes, this type of Japanese plane will move over time with humidity changes. It’s not clear what a glue line running the length of the plane will do to the usual movement of water through the body of the plane. Larry Williams and Don McConnell have similar reservations about laminated plane construction and moisture movement.
Finally, aligning the various parts for the glue up seems to be enough trouble that I’m not sure how much benefit is gained by going through this process. If you wanted to make a smoothing plane by this process, you want to have the mouth as tight as possible. There seem to be enough pieces going together at the glue up stage that precisely placing the mouth seems problematic. I suppose you could glue the body together so that the mouth was deliberately too tight, and tweak it later, but then you might as well cut a mouth the traditional way.
As I mentioned before, I haven’t made a Japanese plane yet, so all of this is conjecture. But for grins, I took a piece of 8/4 oak and a 15mm chisel, and tried to see how much time it would take to chop out enough wood to make the throat of a Japanese plane. It was a lot less time than I thought it would be. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not that much time to be saved by going the lamination route.
“The history of mankind is in woodworking; all cultures have a story of how wood has been used both functionally and decoratively.”
Building a Roubo workbench rerun - 26
(Originally written Apr. 4, 2010)
Right now the top is completed, and I have the base glued up and attached to the top. One of the last things I needed to do before flipping my workbench over is to make the groove to receive the upper tenon on the sliding deadman. Originally I thought about this in terms of being a deep groove, as it is 5/8” wide and needs to be 1-1/2” deep. So I thought about using some sort of plow plane, except that none of the planes that I have that would be suitable for this task will make a groove that deep. Then I started thinking of this less as a groove, and more like a really long mortise.
I used my Japanese plow plane to establish the sides of the groove. The groove is 5/8” wide, and the plane cuts a groove 1/4” wide, so I did one side and then the other. You can see a video of the plane in action here.
After the sides were established, the groove was about 1/4” deep. It needs to be 1-1/2” deep when its done. To do the rest, I tried a few approaches, but the most efficient seemed to be to use a 1/4” mortise chisel to continue the grooves that the plane left. I chopped down at the far end of the groove so that it was at final width and depth, and then started working back along the tracks left by the Japanese plow plane, first one side, and then the other. There was one section of the groove where I tried drilling out the waste with a 1/2” brad point bit and cleaning up the sides, but this seemed to be easier overall, and not much slower.
Here’s an in-progress shot of the groove.
This may sound like a lot of work, but it’s actually not as bad as it may seem. The key, I think, is that by establishing the end of the groove, I gave the chips someplace to go as I chopped, which makes mortising go much faster. As a result, I can work back going about 1/4” at a time, and it takes me about 5-10 seconds of chopping to drive the mortise chisel down to the depth that I want. This goes by much more quickly than it sounds.
Of course, a router would be faster, but what’s the fun in using that? In the end, it will be way cooler to say that I made this groove by hand. Stupider, maybe, but still cooler.
Plus, I don’t have a router. Not the electric kind, anyway.
After finishing the chopping. I used a router plane to finish leveling out the bottom of the groove, checked the groove with a straightedge and square, and pared the sides of the groove to make sure that they are the correct width and square.
Here’s the final result, along with the tools that I used during this process.
Between this and making the 1” wide mortise and tenon joints for the stretchers and leg-to-benchtop joints, I’ve done a lot of mortise making. This is what I learned while doing all this chopping:
- Again, I think the key to making the mortise chopping easy is to first give the waste somewhere to go. Either work on one end and make it full width and depth, or simply drill out a hole at the end of the mortise to give you clearance. It’s surprising how much faster the chopping goes once you’ve done that.
- When chopping, many light hammer blows is easier, and not really that much slower, than a few big hammer blows.
- It seems that the conventional wisdom is that chopping the mortise takes a lot of time. Actually, the final paring and checking the sides of the mortise for square probably takes up just as much time.
- Whenever I was having trouble with making the mortise, without a doubt the problem was either a tool that could be sharper, or I thought something is square when it really was not.
- It’s unbelievable how useful a big wide 2” chisel is. I’ve put a 2” wide paring chisel on my shopping list.